Showing posts with label thyme. Show all posts
Showing posts with label thyme. Show all posts

12 August 2012

Baked Yellow Crookneck Squash with Brown Sugar, Cinnamon and Thyme


I read somewhere that of all the summer squash varieties, yellow crookneck squash is the most like the heavier, deeper-flavored fall varieties.

There was something delicate about the two small crooknecks that I purchased today that made me want to prepare something very simple that would enhance, but not disguise their equally delicate flavor.

And yet, I wanted something a little different. Something that would celebrate flavor.

These little guys always remind me of geese. I would treat a young goose with a certain delicacy, and so it was with my little yellow squashes.

I cut the squash in two pieces, using a melon baller to remove the seeds and stringy flesh that always accompanies seeds. I created a rub, using cinnamon, brown sugar, sea salt and a light-handed dash of pepper, and used it to flavor the exposed flesh of the squash. I placed about two teaspoons of butter in each little half and baked them incovered in a preheated, 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes. Then I added some fresh German thyme, and continued baking for another 15-minutes.

The squash was really sweet, and the thyme, which seems to be the herb most often paired with crookneck, added a subtle, almost perfume-y touch. All very delicate - the way I hoped it would be.




02 December 2008

Roasted Chicken with Pears, Shallots, and Thyme

We woke to a thin dusting of snow yesterday, enough to make the roads slippery and require a quick shoveling.

Later in the yard of the brick Georgian across the parking lot from my office, I saw a huge flock of starlings, gleaning odd bits of food from the snow-covered yard and roosting in the trees, chattering away. I love their chatter on late autumn afternoons as it signals a turn of season.

There are other signs, too, many from the bird world, like the whistling swans I saw along the shore last week, and the skeins of Canada geese that continue to crisscross our leaden skies. The berries on our bushes have begun to turn red and the grasses along the bay and river are brown, a warm contrast to the cool grays of the sky and water.

It's really lovely out there. But cold.

At night we cook comforting meals. I roatsed my own bird tonight, and the aroma was wonderful. I found the recipe in the current issue of Body + Soul magazine: Chicken with Pears, Shallots and Thyme.

Since I followed it to the letter, and it's not posted on the magazine's Web site yet, I will simply tell you that it is a chicken stuffed with five sprigs of thyme, one lemon, three cloves of garlic and then roasted with three Anjou pears and eight shallots in a very hot oven. The aroma is heavenly while it is cooking, very seasonal. I love an autumn or winter meal roasting late into the night, filling the house with its aromas, wrapping around us with the promises of tastes to come.

My husband and I put read-and-green place mats on our dining table and enjoyed this dish by itself: Chicken in its glorious juices, along with tender shallots and almost-creamy pears. The roasting removes that metallic taste pears often have, and replaces it with a mellow sweetness.

With this dish, no sides are needed. But a green salad would have been a nice first course.

I saved every leftover morsel, and tomorrow I will make soup or stew. I should think something with root vegetables would be in order.

I can't wait...

Ok, here's the basic recipe: Rub a whole chicken with coarse sea salt and pepper, and stuff with three peeled garlic gloves, a quartered lemon and five sprigs of thyme. Roast at 450-475 for 15 minutes, then surround with 8 halved shallots and three quartered and cored pears. Add a few more thyme sprigs. Roast for another 40 minutes or so.

07 March 2007

Mushroom Soup with Thyme

French novelist Janine Boissard helped me through college.

Not that she is aware of this act of kindness. But her books — none of them long but all of them lovely — created a pleasant diversion for me on weekends.

She wrote a series of books about the daughters in a family with ties to Normandy; I felt an affinity for them because I had relatives with the same surname. She also wrote other novels, too, and many times they were gentle feminist stories about women achieving some sort of independence or reaching some sort of decision.

I recall one book in which a woman’s husband leaves her for another woman, a younger one, of course. She drives through the rain into Normandy to spend time with her father, and they feast on a rustic meal that included mushrooms. It may have been soup or it may have been a mushroom omelet. No matter; it was comforting. I liked that scene.

I had that comfort in mind tonight when I made such a soup, using that leftover rind of Parmesan and some thyme to give it body and depth. Creaminess and warmth were what I craved.

Rustic Mushroom Soup with Thyme

  • 10 ounces mushrooms
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups chicken or turkey broth
  • ½ cup dry white wine or sherry
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • dash pepper
  • dash sel de fleur


Brush mushrooms clean with damp towel; quarter and set aside.

Melt half of butter in heavy stockpot. Add onions and heat until onions become transparent. Add mushrooms and the rest of the butter and stir until mushrooms begin to darken and cook. Add stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for an hour.

After an hour of simmering, allow the soup to cool. Working in batches, transfer mushrooms and most of the onions to a blender and purée, holding the blender top down. Return the purée to the stockpot, add wine and allow to simmer for another hour. At this point, I added my rind of Parmesan cheese and the thyme and left it in long enough for some flavor and texture to be released. I removed it after about 20 minutes.

Just before serving, I also added ¼ cup of half and half, to give my soup some creaminess.

Note: Tasty and layered, if less full-bodied than I would have liked. It was inspired by an Anthony Bourdain recipe. He says it's better the next day. Let's hear it for leftovers!

24 February 2007

Brussels Sprouts with Shallots, Mushrooms and Thyme

For me there is something immensely pleasurable about preparing a meal as night begins to fall, especially as the clouds gather outside and the wind howls. There is no place I'd rather be than in my own kitchen.

So I was thoroughly enjoying myself Saturday about 6 p.m. as I marinated steak for broiling and sliced tomatoes for a simple side salad with black olives and an herb-peppered chevre.

The long-predicted storm had not arrived (it finally hit at 3 a.m.), and as I chopped and sliced and seasoned I kept an eye on the sky.

I’ve sworn off simple carbohydrates for a while, and thus have forced my husband to do so, too, at least on weekends. Without potatoes, rice or pasta, I’m paying more attention to side dishes. It seemed a while since we’d had Brussels sprouts, and I found a recipe on Epicurious that intrigued me.

As usual, I modified it quite a bit to suit my diet and my time constraints.

Brussels Sprouts with Shallots, Mushrooms and Thyme

For Brussels sprouts

  • 3 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • dash sel de fleur


For shallots

  • 1/2 lb large shallots (about 6), cut lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


For mushrooms

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 lb mixed fresh mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • dash salt
  • dash freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 425. Trim sprouts, douse with oil, sprinkle with garlic and salt. Toss. Arrange in one layer in a shallow baking pan and place in pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, checking and turning frequently to ensure even roasting and no burning.

While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, sauté the shallots in oil and butter until they are soft to the touch and are beginning to turn golden brown. Remove from the pan and drain.

Using the same pan, add more butter and the mushrooms, sautéing until the mushrooms turn golden brown. Add the thyme about midway through; season at the end. The whole process takes about 15-20 minutes.

Finally, mix all three ingredients and serve.

Note: The original recipe calls for a white wine glaze. This was a pared-down version: I used Smart Balance in place of butter. I also used olive oil as sparingly as I could.

It was wonderful: Both sweet and herby, the tastes of the early spring woods. We will definitely do Brussels sprouts this way again.

My husband thought the vegetables were so good that he was unbothered by the mess I made of the steak. It was tough and tasteless!